Blair eyes ‘va­cant’ cen­tre in Bri­tish pol­i­tics

Lesotho Times - - International -

LON­DON — Tony Blair is not plan­ning a re­turn to front­line pol­i­tics in Bri­tain but will speak out on Brexit from the “cur­rently va­cant” cen­tre ground, a spokes­woman for the for­mer prime min­is­ter said Mon­day.

Blair last month ap­pealed to peo­ple who voted for Bri­tain to stay in the Euro­pean Union in a June ref­er­en­dum, de­scrib­ing them as the “new in­sur­gents” and say­ing a se­cond EU ref­er­en­dum was pos­si­ble.

The for­mer Labour leader has also shut down his of­fice’s busi­ness arm and is now look­ing for a new base in Lon­don, prompt­ing press spec­u­la­tion that he will be seek­ing a more do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal role.

Blair “is not re­turn­ing to front­line pol­i­tics, nei­ther is he seek­ing a Brexit-re­lated role,” a spokes­woman from his or­gan­i­sa­tion told AFP on Mon­day.

“He has given many in­ter­views, writ­ten ar­ti­cles and also cam­paigned in the EU ref­er­en­dum. He wants to con­tinue to be part of the de­bate, not least be­cause the cen­tre ground is cur­rently va­cant,” she said.

A re­port in the Sun­day Times news­pa­per said Blair was plan­ning “a piv­otal role in shap­ing Bri­tain’s Brexit deal by scout­ing out a power base” in Lon­don.

“He’s not im­pressed with (Prime Min­is­ter) Theresa May. He thinks she’s a to­tal light­weight,” a source who dis­cussed Brexit with Blair told the pa­per.

“He thinks (Labour leader) Jeremy Cor­byn is a nut­ter and the Tories are screw­ing up Brexit,” the source said.

Blair’s spokes­woman de­nied he had made the com­ments.

Blair, who was prime min­is­ter be­tween 1997 and 2007, is seen as a for­mi­da­ble po­lit­i­cal cam­paigner but re­mains deeply un­popu- lar in Bri­tain for his role in tak­ing the coun­try into the 2003 Iraq war.

In an in­ter­view with Esquire mag­a­zine last month, the cen­tre-left politi­cian said it was “an open ques­tion” what his fu­ture role would be.

Blair ac­knowl­edged there had been “a huge re­ac­tion” against his brand of pol­i­tics but said that cen­trists must fight back.

“I think it’s too soon to say the cen­tre has been de­feated,” he said. “We’ve got to rise to that chal­lenge”. — AFP

TONY Blair ‘wants to con­tinue to be part of the Brexit de­bate’.

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